LOS ANGELES — Jimmy Kimmel marked the 20th anniversary of "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" on Thursday night by bringing back his first-ever guest George Clooney along with inaugural guest co-host Snoop Dogg and musical act Coldplay for the celebration. Even his long-time nemesis Matt Damon made a guest appearance, but only to lament being snubbed yet again by the late-night TV host.
The ABC talk show premiered in 2003 live after the Super Bowl and, as Kimmel recalled in Thursday's monologue, was "dead on arrival" as he recounted the not-so-rave reviews he received in his debut.
"Why these people at ABC hired me, I still have no idea," he quipped, name-checking Bob Iger — the president and CEO of ABC's parent company, Walt Disney Co. — who was in Kimmel's studio audience Thursday.
The host also noted that they had completed 3,588 episodes since and "if you played all our shows back to back, it would go on for 150 days straight and you would kill yourself."
"There's been two wars, a worldwide pandemic, four presidents, an insurrection, at least three different Kanyes," he said, topping off his verbal retrospective with a physical Blockbuster Video membership card for the program because it pre-dated Google, YouTube and iPhones.
Kimmel, whose quips quickly turned into a teary-eyed tribute to his staff, band, family and other supporters who were in the audience, also devoted a segment on the glow-up of his parking lot security guard-turned-sidekick Guillermo Rodriguez.
Even though the self-deprecating comic called "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" a "dumb" show during its two-decade run, he also said that he used it as a platform to advocate for issues he cared about, including healthcare and stricter gun laws. Not to mention encouraging "thousands of parents to eat their kids' Halloween candy."
After his interviews with Snoop and Clooney and a performance by Coldplay at the end of the episode, Kimmel continued his running gag about Damon and apologized to "The Bourne Identity" star for running out of time for their interview. Then the camera cut to a furious Damon, who had been waiting in his dressing room to celebrate the anniversary episode. Damon unleashed a profanity-laced tirade and wildly tore down a banner, smashed a cake and destroyed other decorations he allegedly prepared for the celebration.
"What the actual f—, 20 years of this s—. F— Kimmel. I can't believe I baked you a cake," he raged, "Stupid cake, with your stupid face! You're welcome, America. Most overrated talk-show host ever."
Kimmel and Damon's faux feud started not long after the show debuted. Kimmel said he ad-libbed an apology to Damon on a night when the show featured some particularly unremarkable guests. After his producer responded to the joke by doubling over with laughter off camera, Kimmel began working the bit into his sign-off in just about every episode after that. Damon finally made his way onto the show in 2006, and repeatedly over the years, as the rivalry has escalated and pulled Damon's pal Ben Affleck and other celebrities into its orbit.